Bill Clinton Earns CNN's 'Play of the Week' After CNNers Mused About 3rd Term for Him

Three days after CNN's Wolf Blitzer wondered, on The Situation Room, “if Bill Clinton could run for President again, would he be re-elected?" and Jack Cafferty excitedly agreed “he probably would be, in a heartbeat” since "Clinton would be the answer to a prayer” for Democrats, CNN's Bill Schneider on Friday awarded Bill Clinton with his “Political Play of the Week.” Schneider touted how “in a series of appearances this week, the former President made a point of separating his career from his wife's,” so “if Senator Clinton runs for President, it will be harder to depict her campaign as the Clinton restoration.” Schneider trumpeted how this week Bill Clinton had “won the 'Great American Award' from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and the 'J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding.'”After a clip of Clinton praising Jimmy Carter for how “he won a Nobel Prize, which he richly deserved, as much for what he did after he left the White House as when he was in," Schneider heralded how "Bill Clinton is still campaigning for the Nobel Peace Prize. But, for now, he'll just have to settle for the 'Political Play of the Week.'" (Transcript follows.)

An April 11 NewsBusters item posted with video, “CNN's Blitzer and Cafferty Muse About Third Clinton Term: 'Answer to a Prayer,'” recounted:
CNN's Wolf Blitzer wondered, on Tuesday's Situation Room, “if Bill Clinton could run for President again, would he be re-elected?" Though Clinton never reached 50 percent (43% in 1992, 49% in 1996), Jack Cafferty excitedly agreed with the proposition: "Oh, I think he probably would be, in a heartbeat, don't you?" Cafferty listed some other potential candidates, such as "the Governor down in Virginia" who "might be a good guy" and "they got Barack Obama," but instead, “who do you see on TV? You see Hillary and Chuck Schumer and Ted Kennedy." Cafferty maintained: "Clinton would be the answer to a prayer. Not Hillary, her husband." The exchange followed the 5pm EDT hour “Cafferty File" segment question: "Can religion help the Democrats?" That was prompted by Bill Clinton's recommendation to Democrats that they emphasize “values” and religious beliefs. None of the e-mailed replies Cafferty read had made any suggestion about Bill Clinton running for President again.

A transcript of Schneider's “Political Play of the Week” aired at about 4:45pm EDT during the first hour of the April 14 Situation Room:
William Schneider: “Former Presidents are supposed to retire from politics. Can they still get the 'Political Play of the Week'? You bet.”

Schneider began his taped piece: “It's never happened before: the spouse of an ex-President running for President. If Senator Hillary Clinton jumps into the 2008 race, a lot of people will ask, exactly what role will her husband play?”

Bill Clinton, on Tuesday: “I determined, when I left office, that I was absolutely not going to spend the rest of my life wishing I were still a President.”

Schneider: “In a series of appearances this week, the former President made a point of separating his career from his wife's. It's all about her now.”

Clinton in same appearance: “My wife said to tell you hello tonight, but, you know, she's a big-time politician now and she's in her hometown of Chicago, speaking to this big economic club.”

Schneider: “Mr. Clinton expressed penance for his sins, his sins -- not hers.”

Clinton: “A Pentecostal minister who is a friend of mine in Louisiana confessed that he voted for the re-election of the President. As a matter of fact, he said he wanted to make a confession to me. (Laughter) And I thought, that's pretty good, having a Pentecostal preacher confess to the world's most famous sinner. So, I listened to what he had to say.”

Schneider: “Bill Clinton lives and breathes politics. Has he really set aside his own political ambitions? Not entirely. This week, he won the 'Great American Award' from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and the 'J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding.' But it sounds like he's aiming for something else.”

Clinton: “The person whose career mine has most closely tracked and a man I helped to elect President, I'm proud to say, is Jimmy Carter. I'm very honored by the work he has done. And he won a Nobel Prize, which he richly deserved, as much for what he did after he left the White House as what he was in -- as when he was in.”

Schneider: “Bill Clinton is still campaigning for the Nobel Peace Prize. But, for now, he'll just have to settle for the 'Political Play of the Week.'”

Schneider, back on live: “Bill Clinton is trying to show he has got his own career and his own agenda. That way, if Senator Clinton runs for President, it will be harder to depict her campaign as the Clinton restoration -- Heidi.”

Host Heidi Collins: “Interesting.”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center